What does God say about money

Dough, cash or coal - there are many synonyms for money. While the motto is "money is not talked about", money is a surprising topic in the Old and New Testament Bibles.

In the Hebrew Bible, money and property are initially interpreted quite openly as God's blessing: Abraham is blessed by God - as a result, his flocks flourish and his property increases. At the same time, however, the nullity and provisional nature of money and wealth are named: "Those who love money will never be satisfied with money" (Ecclesiastes 5, 9), as the preacher can say, as well as "abundance does not let the rich sleep". Money is - contrary to what the vernacular says - so obviously not calming. On the contrary, it arouses the desire for more.

Limited time ownership

Already in the Old Testament there is a reference to the fact that all property is limited in time and ends with death: "As someone has come naked from his mother's body, so he goes back to the way he came, and despite his efforts he takes nothing with him in one hand when he goes there "(Ecclesiastes 5:14). A death shirt really doesn't have any pockets. Jesus takes up this idea in the story of the rich grain farmer (Lk 12, 1ff): He worries about how he can secure and preserve his wealth, about sleep. Because he forgets the finiteness of his life in an effort to secure his wealth, he makes a fool of himself.

From the very beginning, the term possession in the Hebrew Bible has been shaped theologically: God has freed his people from bondage and given them a land. This land is and remains a loan from God. That is why the inherited part of the land of a family cannot be sold forever, that is why the field should not be tilled in the sabbatical year and therefore the remission of debts and debt bondage as well as the return of seized land are provided for in the jubilee year. In this sense, then, the Bible does not know about private property. Not to understand one's possessions as a gift given and borrowed by God would be to steal it from God.

It is precisely these ideas that tie in with the Jubilee Campaign, which advocates fair treatment of heavily indebted countries and debt relief for hopelessly overindebted developing countries.

Contribute to the basic security of the poor

Ownership in the form of land and money is not just for personal enjoyment. On the contrary: Those who have had enough are obliged to contribute to the basic security of the poor, widows and orphans and foreigners in the country. This includes the commandment to give a tenth part of all money, to allow post-harvest and gleanings to the poor (Leviticus 19: 9) and the prohibition on lending money against interest. Those who lend money to a poor person should not want to make a profit themselves. "You are not to give him your money or your food against interest and usury." it says in Leviticus 25:37.

The Old Testament also knows the case that money and prosperity are reasons for alienation from God. In Deuteronomy 32:15, one of the oldest texts in the Hebrew Bible, it says "And Jacob ate and was satisfied, Jeshurun ​​became fat and bucked." When they have become prosperous, the people forget God, the giver of all gifts. The prophetic criticism of those who enrich themselves at the expense of the poor cannot be ignored, e.g. Isa. 5,8: "Woe to you who line up house by house and join field to field!" - Amos denounces the rich who get richer at the expense of the poor and enslave the poor: "They collect treasures in their palaces with violence and oppression." (Amos 3,10, cf. Amos 4,1-3; Amos 8 , 6) - a criticism that is very relevant today.

Wherever constant growth is the decisive guarantee for a successful life, for meaning and satisfaction, money becomes the "idol Mammon" (Luke 18). As an Aramaic word, "Mammon" is initially neutral and simply means possession. Jesus personifies money here.

He speaks of him as a power with personal features, hence of an idol. Money occupies our feelings, thoughts, our nerves, our souls. Money is just not neutral, it has a powerful dynamic inherent in it. Money tends to become the "all-determining reality" itself, the center of life, rather than being a means to life. This is exactly what the Bible means by the term idol.

Money as a medium of exchange

Whoever sees his life and his security in money and property, who hoards it, who only piles it up, who lets it "work" to increase it for himself, misses what money is actually for: It should serve life as a medium of exchange, but it is not a "salvific" prestigious value in and of itself.

Instead of hoarding money that you don't need to live yourself, you should rather do something good with it, demands the largely neglected passage from the Bible, Jesus Sirach 29:10: "Use your money for your brother and friend, don't let it rust the stone until it perishes. "

In the meantime, a number of financial institutions such as the Bank for Church and Diakonie, the Cooperative Bank for Loans and Gifts (GLS), the ecumenical development aid bank Oikocredit, the Pax Bank or the Steyler Ethik Bank founded by the Steyler missionaries act and operate in this sense. With the money of their investors they all want to change the world for the better "fair" and contribute to more justice. Under the heading of "ethical investment", they offer investment opportunities that meet strict ethical criteria, support sustainable business practices and where customers do not have to give up their conscience at the bank counter.